Granulocyte activation in humans is modulated by psychological stress and relaxation

Margit Keresztes, Tibor Rudisch, János Tajti, Imre Ocsovszki, János Gardi

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Our aim was to study the possible relationship between psychological stress and granulocyte activation primarily in healthy students during an examination period (n = 11) and also in chronically anxious patients (n = 15). We employed cell surface markers: lactoferrin, l-selectin, αMβ2-integrin and CD15s and flow cytometry to detect changes in the activation state of granulocytes, with the start of the stressed state in students at the beginning of an examination period, which was associated with elevated blood plasma cortisol level, and following relaxation hypnosis in both students, during their examination term, and patients. The ratios of all four types of marker-carrier granulocytes increased at the start of the examination period in students; an especially dramatic (ca. 5-fold) enhancement was observed in the proportion of lactoferrin-bearing cells relatively to the pre-examination term value. After hypnosis, the percentage of lactoferrin-exposing granulocytes decreased considerably both in students and in patients, by about half; a similar decrease was observed in the ratio of CD15s-carrier cells in patients. No significant alteration was observed during the study in state or trait anxiety levels, and in total or differential leukocyte counts. Thus, granulocyte activation could be associated with stress, while relaxation may facilitate reducing activation of these cells. In both groups of subjects, granulocyte surface lactoferrin appeared to be a sensitive "stress indicator". This needs further evaluation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-281
Number of pages11
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2007



  • Anxiety
  • Cell surface activation markers
  • Examination stress
  • Immunofluorescent flow cytometry
  • Lactoferrin
  • Leukocytes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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